J. Edgar (2011)
A complete disaster that portrays Hoover as a selfish, insecure and intolerant man but we never find out who he really was. Besides, the makeup is atrocious, while the overly desaturated cinematography and dragging pace keep the audience even more emotionally distant.
Didactic in its approach but still pretty relevant as an expository political essay about a period in time that may seem too far back now, this is a comprehensive documentary that offers a remarkably detailed look at who Kubitschek was as both a strategic politician and an ambitious man.
Jack Reacher (2012)
This thrilling crime movie is gripping and well written, even with some blatant clichés along the way. And the best about it is, of course, Tom Cruise, who offers a magnetic performance in a great narrative full of awesome twists and exciting hand fights.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)
An unoriginal and forgettable movie so full of worn-out clichés and so far-fetched that it will only be surprising or exciting for someone who has never seen anything in their lives before, with also an intrusive, clichéd score and a good cast that certainly deserved better.
Not even near as funny as it believes to be with its amount of hackneyed jokes that you would expect from an absolute retard, this is an irritating collection of hidden camera pranks that never come together as a narrative and just seem to have no purpose whatsoever.
The Jacket (2005)
The film has an intriguing idea but takes too long to finally kick in, which is something that ought to be a bit exasperating for some viewers, and it almost gets ruined by a silly ending that tries too hard to be optimistic against any logic left, even if the actors do their best to sell it.
Filmed in 16 mm, which creates an authentic feel of watching a documentary piece, this is a magnetic and emotionally resonant film that relies on Natalie Portman’s superb performance and a magnificent score that plunges us into the dread and nightmare endured by the character.
Jackie Brown (1997)
Not Tarantino’s best work but still an enjoyable homage to blaxploitation with a welcome comeback by Pam Grier — and although this solid crime movie has charm and style, it is also a bit overlong and could have had a few scenes left out in post-production.
Jane Eyre (2011)
The production design and costumes are indeed exquisite, as well as the absorbing Gothic atmosphere. However, the film lacks passion and mystery, while the dialogue sounds incredibly cheesy and Wasikowska is too apathetic for the role.
Jane Got a Gun (2015)
O’Connor’s direction is a tad heavy-handed (some of the flashback scenes and even the score are horribly corny and misplaced), but the film is solid enough in its attempt to create a nuanced context for the characters and make us care about them in a tense third act.
A typically didactic documentary by Silvio Tendler about a very well-intentioned president who didn’t seem to be quite aware of the snake pit where he was, and yet it feels like there is not as much to be found here about Jango as about Brazil’s political scenario in the 1960s.
Janis: Little Girl Blue (2015)
What this excellent and well-directed documentary does so well is create a profoundly nuanced portrait of a sensitive, three-dimensional woman who only wanted to be happy, and it may not tell everything about her (how could it?) but offers a touching look at her complex character.
The stunning cinematography — in an almost square ratio of rounded corners — knows how to explore the green vastness of its landscapes, but Alonso mistakes tedious for contemplative, and it doesn’t help that the last half hour turns out to be a full incursion into absolute nothingness.
The Jazz Singer (1927)
Notable as the first feature film with audible dialogue and touching as it shows a man torn apart by a difficult decision, it becomes a disgusting melodrama in its last fifteen minutes, when its two possible endings are thrown in together and the character makes a most unacceptable choice.
Je Suis Charlie (2015)
A barely superficial recap structured from tedious scenes of witnesses and friends of the victims talking endlessly to the camera (which is, well, the most frustrating kind of documentary) without adding anything new or offering any insight into such a complex subject.
Jean Charles (2009)
Fact is, Jean Charles would have never had his life filmed if he hadn’t been killed in such revolting circumstances. Otherwise, if not for such a lamentable incident, he would only be another dead man with a life story not interesting enough to become a film.
Jean de Florette (1986)
It almost makes us feel guilty that we are rooting for the villains, who conspire so greedily to force a man off his own land, and is elevated even more by Jean-Claude Petit’s wonderful score and two excellent performances by Yves Montand and Daniel Auteuil.
Jeepers Creepers (2001)
Despite the fact that the two main characters are complete idiots and the cinematography is so dark that sometimes it is really hard to see what is in front of us, this is a fun and creepy horror movie that is all the more intriguing when you know it was made by a convicted pedophile.
The Jeffrey Dahmer Files (2012)
A poorly-put-together combination of talking heads and cheap re-enactments that offer no real insight into the mind of a serial killer, basically telling what many of us already know and not being that interesting for those who know nothing about the case.
The Jerk (1979)
The most irritating thing in this film (apart from the generally pedestrian sense of humor and lack of structure) is that it can’t seem to decide if Steve Martin’s character is supposed to be a naive idiot who doesn’t know anything or a quick-witted smartass whenever required.
Jerry Maguire (1996)
The narrative feels a bit long and could have certainly been shorter, but Crowe carries out this well-written, superbly-edited romance/character study with a lot of honesty and talent, relying on fantastic performances by Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Renée Zellweger.
Jersey Boys (2014)
A dull, uninvolving and derivative biopic full of the clichés that Eastwood has by now become an expert on, and it doesn’t give us any reason why this story deserves to be told or what makes those characters remotely interesting besides Frankie Valli’s voice.
Jersey Girl (2004)
Some may argue that it has a heart (and it does), but it also has too many clichés — including a heavy-handed soundtrack that always makes plain explicit what Affleck’s character is feeling -, and it doesn’t help that his relationship with Liv Tyler’s is so forced from the get go.
Jesus Camp (2006)
It is appalling to see the nefarious effects of religion and the fundamentalist indoctrination of children carried out by those ignorant, delusional ministers who are so strongly committed to brainwashing them into becoming a bunch of fanatics and turning the USA into a theocracy.
Jesus Christ Superstar (1973)
A super tacky rock opera that looks awfully outdated and has only a few good songs amid many horrible ones (of course, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice), but even worse is how it soon becomes a tedious, inconsequential series of Biblical events after a promising beginning.
La Jetée (1962)
Consisting (almost) entirely of still-shot black-and-white photographs and a male voiceover narration, this is a mesmerizing, poetic and influential photo-roman that uses an intriguing science-fiction concept to discuss memories and our temporal relationship with them.
A minor melodrama that came as a consolation prize for Davis, who didn’t get the main role in Gone with the Wind — and, just like in that film, the protagonist is a spoiled, impudent woman who likes to manipulate the men around her. The highlights include the elegant dialogue and Davis’ fierce performance.
This is the eighth film of the franchise, and so anyone who has obviously seen the previous movies before jumping into this one will recognize all of the same tricks, plot devices and typical twists, but still this installment is entertaining and coherent enough not to be a disaster.
It is quite nice to see these images released to the public after so many years, now in a curious documentary that explores Jim Carrey’s creative process showing us how he embraced the character of Andy Kaufman and even treated him (as well as Tony Clifton) as a real human being.
Jimmy’s Hall (2014)
I hope this is not Loach’s final film as it has been rumored, a solid drama that takes the easy way but shows in an honest manner how in all times religion has been a hindrance to knowledge and pleasure, as embodied here by Jim Norton in a strong, nuanced performance.
The last ten minutes are so disturbing and grotesque that they will leave me thinking about this whole business for a long time, and even though Jarecki’s methods are ethically questionable (he withholds important evidence), this is a fascinating documentary that sheds light on something too bizarre to be real.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011)
Even for those who are not into sushi, it can only be an enormous pleasure to listen to this 85-year-old sushi master (and the people around him) talk about his perfectionism and love for what he does, as well as the man’s relationship with his eldest son who is supposed to succeed him.
Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (2010)
A very compelling documentary that takes a good look at one year in the life of a workaholic diva of yore who was born to be in the spotlight, and it proves to be quite revealing not only about her need of stardom and recognition but also about show business itself.
Casting aside all of the glamour that is usually present in stories about national heroes and martyrs, this nuanced character study is instead a naturalistic portrait of the man behind the hero and of the sociopolitical conditions that would lead him to become a revolutionary.
Jodorowsky’s Dune (2013)
An extremely fascinating, profoundly frustrating yet also surprisingly cheerful account of the greatest adaptation that never was as gloriously envisaged by the mind of an artistic genius obsessed with the idea that he was creating a sacred masterpiece that would change the universe forever.
With Cage’s best and most nuanced performance since Bad Lieutenant and a solid, sensitive direction by Green in what seems like the finest drama of his career to date, this bleak film also offers outstanding performances by Sheridan and (especially) non-actor Poulter.
John Dies at the End (2012)
The complete mess of a plot tries at every cost to be a smart-ass comedy filled with an offbeat humor that, apart from a very few inspired moments, is simply embarrassing — as we can see, for instance, from an awful aracnicide joke in the movie’s ridiculous last hour.
John Wick (2014)
For those who like Taken and its sequels, here is a much more stylish, gripping and smart action movie that boasts an awesome soundtrack, thrilling fight scenes and a badass Keanu Reeves shooting, kicking and proving that he can be an action movie star like few others.
John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)
An exhilarating sequel that does justice to the first movie by expanding this fascinating world of criminals and assassins to another level with its rules, scope and reach, while at the same time offering us more amazing fight scenes, deaths (lots of them) and set pieces.
The action and fighting scenes are still thrilling enough to watch, but there is a major sense of lazy repetition here; besides, the plot is not that consistent, and it becomes hard to believe the characters’ dumb decisions or care about something that doesn’t want to have an end.
Johnny Guitar (1954)
The first 45 minutes are perfect, with impeccable performances (Crawford at her best) and an exceptional dialogue, but then the film starts to lose steam and drag in a few moments, while Vienna’s peaceful (passive, that would be) motivations become a bit exasperating.
Jonathas’ Forest (2012)
The strong second half benefits from an impressive sound design that immerses us in a relentless jungle to make us feel the character’s agony and isolation, but even so the result feels a bit incomplete, as if less than a sum of its parts — parts which hardly come together in a satisfying way.
Journal de France (2012)
A fascinating documentary centered on the work of a curious artist who kept a register of many episodes of our history with his camera, and it is an irresistible collection of amazing footage of historical events and new scenes that he shot throughout his beloved France.
Journey to Italy (1954)
An intimate and involving drama about an unhappy couple facing the collapse of their marriage while on a trip that only exposes their mutual discontent. It feels sad and real, but it is a pity that the story ends in such an easy and artificial way.
Russell tries so hard to lampshade the blatant artificiality (typical of a soap opera) found in this absurd, unbelievable story (based very slightly on true events) that the result is, well, pretty hard to buy and to be engaged with, even if it is enjoyable and mostly refreshing to watch.
Ju-on: The Grudge (2002)
Despite its fragmented, diffuse structure and obvious lack of a narrative center, this competent Japanese horror movie manages to create an oppressive atmosphere with an intriguing mystery that can be pretty disturbing sometimes, even if some of it also falls flat.
The Judge (2014)
If it weren’t for the strong performances, there would be very little else to commend in this sentimental, interminable and predictable pile of clichés complete with one-dimensional characters, a ridiculous cinematography and expository dialogue from beginning to end.
The Judge and the Assassin (1976)
Despite its promising premise, sophisticated direction and witty sense of humor, it is a pity that this frustrating film doesn’t know how to explore its themes into something more consistent and feels only bureaucratic and outdated, with not enough to offer us in terms of narrative.
Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)
An always fascinating courtroom drama whose truly indisputable cinematic strength lies in many unforgettable performances from the entire cast and an extremely complex, thought-provoking script that never ceases to question our perceptions about the case and History itself.
Jug Face (2013)
Never make a pact with a demon, fine we all know that, and this little horror movie, despite a rather curious idea (the pit, especially), doesn’t have much to offer beyond that and doesn’t work in any level — not as a tense slow-burn nor as an creepy hillbilly sect story.
This decent film has a great cinematography and knows how to build tension in a scene that takes place in a train, but apart from that it didn’t deserve most of the Oscar nominations and wins that it got and feels a bit unclear about its purpose, reaching an anticlimactic ending.
Julia’s Eyes (2010)
The stunning cinematography creates a perfect oppressive atmosphere in this thriller that grows really tense and frightening, but the film is also weakened by poor narrative choices, and if you think in retrospect you will see some plot holes. Besides, the lame last scene is unforgivable.
Julie & Julia (2009)
A flawed movie that wants to be two stories in one but is not so well edited to make everything flow naturally. Even so, what raises this light comedy above average is definitely Meryl Streep, who once again turns something highly ordinary into a pleasant experience.
Juliet of the Spirits (1965)
Fellini’s first film in color is this brilliant LSD-infused satire that enchants us with its gorgeous art direction and colorful costumes, while using a magnificent symbolism to depict the psyche of a passive woman who needs to break free from the bonfire of her married-life martyrdom.
Juliet’s Band (2016)
I don’t see why this story was made into 48 minutes of narrative (too long for a short but too short for a feature movie), since it has enough material to fill up an excellent long-length film — and the problem here is exactly an abrupt and frustrating ending that doesn’t go anywhere.
I don’t know what is so revelatory about what Julieta wants to tell her daughter, all I know for sure is that this corny soap opera feels more like a cheap excuse for Almodóvar to tell whatever comes to his mind even if he doesn’t really seem to have anything to say.
The special effects and make-up are atrocious, and this excruciating movie wants us to care about a silly game that has nothing compelling or adventurous about it and whose rules seem ridiculously arbitrary — and it all ends in an awfully sentimental conclusion.
The Jungle Book (1967)
In his desire to make a universally well-received film, Walt Disney decided to play safe with this light-hearted and hugely entertaining delight that would hardly not please everyone, with an expressive animation, great catchy songs and many adorable characters.
The Jungle Book (2016)
The magnificent visual effects seem to be the only thing that makes this new version worth watching (despite the lame 3D), given how everything else is so by the book (no pun intended) and plays a bit too safe to be memorable — you will probably forget it right after it is over.
Jupiter Ascending (2015)
It gives good attention to the details of its universe and has a stunning visual design, but the plot is derivative, with an excess of dei ex machina (the handsome guy always has to save the narrow-minded lady in danger) and lame aliens who display the same cultural habits as humans.
Jupiter’s Moon (2017)
The father-son-like relationship that grows between the two central characters is forced and never convincing, and it is nearly impossible to relate to anyone in this obvious allegory that feels so much more repetitious and dull than inspired or eye-opening as it clearly strives to be.
Jurassic Park (1993)
A modern classic whose superb script is even more impressive than Spielberg’s expert direction and the jaw-dropping effects to create the dinosaurs — including several scenes serving multiple functions and narrative elements introduced that turn out to be essential later.
Jurassic World (2015)
The visual effects are as good as they can be — despite the aseptic look of the establishing shots of the park -, and this is an entertaining update of the dinos to a new generation even if it lacks the wow factor and can’t match the original classic in any way possible.
More cynical and exciting than it has the right to be, this is a great sequel that will make you jump and laugh in equal measure and refuse to disappoint you with its crazy amount of epic run-for-your-lives moments and the way it wants to criticize the ugly bleakness of our times.
Just Like Brothers (2012)
A pleasant film that balances lightness, tenderness and melancholy without being an irregular experience. The only problem is that the three main characters never seem to fully form the bond of friendship you expect to see from the trip they are taking together.
Just Like Our Parents (2017)
Even though this weak and extremely irregular film does a few things right here and there, it is really hard to overlook so many flaws, like the amount of clichés, the occasionally cheesy dialogue and the poor characterization of its characters (and their motivations).
Adopting a purely observational approach without even a narration or voice-over, director Maria Augusta Ramos lets us have a look at the Brazilian justice system from a few different angles and needs no effort to expose a great deal about the country’s abysmal social inequality.
Justice League (2017)
Avoiding most of the irritating solemnity of Batman vs Superman, DC manages to find a solid balance between entertaining and funny, with heroes that earn our sympathy and an exciting plot that knows how to bring them together as a team, even if the villain is rather ridiculous.
In its desire to be faithful to Kafka’s story, even as its setting is moved to Inner Mongolia, this passable adaptation manages to capture the hilariousness of the plot’s surreal bureaucracy but is harmed by an unwise choice to end as abruptly as the incomplete novel.
A disjointed film in which everything seems painfully arbitrary and with no sense of purpose, suffering from an unfocused script, a clumsy direction and an expository last scene — and it isn’t funny as a hipster comedy nor intriguing enough as a mystery as it wants to be.
It is true that Makhmalbaf tends to repeat himself sometimes (like with a redundant voice-over), but he casts a powerful look at a country living under the rule of Taliban and dominated by poverty and religious fundamentalism — which forced women into complete subjugation.
One of Fassbinder’s first films is this cynical story that, even though not remarkable, was already an early indication of his talent as a filmmaker — something visible in the way he combines the naturalistic style of the Nouvelle Vague with a detached, Brechtian mode of acting.
Keep Going (2018)
It is a very risky move to make Samuel so unlikable right away and then try to humanize him for the viewers, but the abrupt shift is never convincing and the film feels completely lost, drifting much like the characters through forced situations that don’t lead anywhere.
Keep the Lights On (2012)
The kind of gay-themed drama that is becoming increasingly rare nowadays: one that is brutally honest and devastating like real love can be when ruined by drug addiction and by one person’s dependence on another — which, if at first enraging, earns its place as the true core of the story.
Culturally significant and so lucky to have been made prior to the Brazilian military dictatorship, this is a masterclass in mise-en-scène and editing (the first Brazilian film to be nominated for the Oscars), as well as a daring look at blind faith, religious intolerance and sensationalism.
The technical aspects are just decent for this sort of major production that wants so much to be the next Lawrence of Arabia (take a look at the irregular cinematography in the night scenes), but this is an interesting epic with an excellent script for those (like me) who love war strategy.
Aaron Johnson is a very talented and charismatic young actor, and his character’s adorable anti-charm, combined with the awesome fighting skills of Chloe Moretz’s Hit-Girl and the film’s comic book style and bloody violence, makes this an endlessly fun superhero movie.
Kick-Ass 2 (2013)
By trying to combine an idiotic slapstick humor and the graphic violence that characterized the first film, the result is an irregular sequel that, even if sometimes exciting and able to make us laugh, is totally unnecessary and never on a par with that excellent movie.
The Kid (1921)
Although I find unnecessary the dream sequence near the end, this is a great 6‑reeler that finds the perfect balance between funny and touching — and the highlight is sweet little co-star Jackie Coogan, who steals every scene he is in.
The Kid with a Bike (2011)
Although interesting at first, this drama is a frustrating effort that doesn’t seem to have much to say, while the characters are not well constructed or developed, the conflicts seem artificial and, more annoying than anything else, the young protagonist is way too unlikable.
Like a car accident that you can’t avert your eyes from, this is an unsettling display of sociopathy and delinquency on the part of a group of hateful, repellent teens, though it almost works as a relevant social commentary on adolescence and AIDS. I said almost.
The Kids Are All Right (2010)
I don’t know why this film is labeled a comedy since it has nothing to laugh about. In fact, it is a pathetic little drama that wants to make you feel liberal accepting a family of lesbians, but the characters are poorly developed, the conflicts are artificial and clichéd, and the story lacks dramatic drive.
Kids for Cash (2013)
An infuriating (and devastating) documentary that shows how a despicable judge was responsible for ruining the lives of thousands of teenagers and families in a shocking scandal that could have only taken place in a judicial system corrupted by aberrations like for-profit prisons.
Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
An average Miyazaki film that doesn’t develop so well its many elements into a cohesive narrative as it should — like for example the character’s sudden loss of power and her inability to make friends. The result is amusing, even if not that satisfying.
Kill, Baby… Kill! (1966)
As a typical Mario Bava film, it aged quite poorly and has a lot of plot holes; still, if what you are looking for is mood and atmosphere, this greatly influential ghost story has plenty of that to offer and looks awesome with its saturated colors, creepy sets and evocative compositions.
Kill List (2011)
A pointless and confusing mix of family drama, hitman thriller and gory horror that lacks energy, tension and is never engaging, with so many plot holes, terrible pacing and ugly jump cuts — and not even a creepy twist in the end (which makes no sense) saves it from being a bore.
Kill the Messenger (2014)
After an engaging first half that trusts our ability to put together the details of this whole affair as we follow its character, this strong political drama is sadly weakened by some annoying clichés, including that of him becoming an “obsessed man who moves away from his family.”
Kill Your Darlings (2013)
A very engaging biopic, even more for those acquainted with these Beat Generation poets but not with this early event in their lives involving a decisive murder — and Radcliffe and DeHaan shine with a surprising chemistry together, leading a great ensemble cast.
Kill Your Friends (2015)
I liked this story a lot more when it was called American Psycho — come on, let’s face it, the comparison is inevitable -, but still, even if it starts to be predictable and lose gas after halfway through, this is a decent, darkly humored film centered on a rotten character.
Incredibly audacious (yet also a bit irregular) for the time it was made, Bressane’s classic underground film is an intelligent experimentation that uses a series of disconnected scenes to draw a sharp and bleak portrait of a desperate society.
Killer Elite (2011)
With a a messy script full of expository dialogue, confusing motivations and plot holes, this uninteresting and generic movie is also only able to move forward by relying on stupid characters who are no more a killer elite than a bunch of incompetent amateurs.
Killer Joe (2011)
It is like the Coen brothers meet David Lynch in this depraved, vicious and incredibly gripping festival of sadism that Friedkin puts us through — a spectacular thriller that is both brutal and hilarious in a twisted way, like what he did in his fantastic Bug, also written by Tracy Letts.
With more hits than misses, this amusing alien monster movie looks great and does deliver a lot of funny moments and all the goofy fun that is promised in the title — even though it can be very silly at times, especially in its harmless ending.
The Killing (1956)
Kubrick already showed early signs of his genius when he brought us this masterpiece, an elaborate heist thriller full of rich details for its time, with a deliciously wry dialogue and a suspenseful plot that grows unbearably tense until the very end.
The Killing Fields (1984)
With the film’s gut-wrenching first half devoted to depicting with gritty realism and a beautiful cinematography the takeover of Cambodia by the Khmer Rouge, the second half relies on Ngor’s superb performance to show a man in an amazing struggle to escape from hell.
Killing Them Softly (2012)
An extremely tense and brutal thriller that makes an intelligent comparison between the mafia and the American economic system, even though the analogy is also a bit heavy-handed, and it benefits from a deliberate pace and great performances from a sharp cast.
Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)
Alec Guinness is fantastic playing eight different characters but it is Dennis Price who shines in this witty, delightful British dark comedy that proves so compelling showing the minutiae of the main character’s plan to eliminate eight people in order to obtain a title.
The Kindergarten Teacher (2014)
It has a curious premise, like a modern version of Amadeus (only with poetry, an unappreciated art form in our days, in lieu of music), following a madly obsessed woman who exploits a poor child to whom the gift of art comes so easy, but the film drags and feels a bit repetitive at times.
Guy Ritchie continues to make overstylized versions of classic stories, only this one is a tedious and derivative action movie that seems like a desperate display of virility — let’s be honest, instead of a sword, it would have been more honest to just show Arthur wielding his penis.
King Cobra (2016)
Christian Slater is really good and compensates for some poor performances by other actors (especially Alicia Silverstone), and the film uses an interesting structure (based on clever parallels) to develop its characters in a way that lets us grasp their motivations.
A King in New York (1957)
A satisfying though uneven Chaplin comedy clearly envisaged as a criticism on the American society and the absurdity of McCarthyism. There are some memorable scenes, including a hilarious surprise dinner, but also just as many less successful ones.
King Kong (1933)
Few images can be as iconic in the history of Cinema as King Kong on top of the Empire State building fighting airplanes, and this is an entertaining classic that should be remembered for those stop-motion special effects that were absolutely amazing for the time it was made.
The King of Comedy (1982)
An unsettling, underrated and for a very long time misunderstood Scorsese film that benefits from excellent performances by De Niro, Lewis and Bernhard, and it is its cynical ending that elevates it to the level of brilliant satire about the power of sensationalism in our times.
The King’s Speech (2010)
A fascinating period drama that will probably please everyone (and find few detractors), with great dialogue and exquisite performances by Firth and Rush, who shine in their scenes together and sell us the natural relationship that grows between the two characters.
The Kings of Summer (2013)
The kind of refreshing and funny indie dramedy tailor-made to charm everyone at Sundance, with its share of indie clichés and a director who seems very eager to show that he can direct, and it is worth seeing especially because of Nick Offerman and Moises Arias, both hilarious.
An exhilarating and subversive homage to old spy movies that boasts a smart and hugely entertaining plot, a great cast (Jackson is hilarious), a fabulous production and costume design, and a deliciously stylized violence that makes this the Kick-Ass of spy movies.
It is irritating how it feels like the producers want to Americanize the franchise and make it more accessible to its American audience, and even though the movie is relatively amusing and has its exciting moments here and there, it lacks focus and doesn’t have any structure.
Kirikou and the Sorceress (1998)
An enjoyable and simple animation with an honest moral lesson, though clearly made for very small children. It makes for a good time, especially in its second act, but the ending could have been better.
Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985)
It is remarkable how this film turned out to be so superb and profound despite all the many cuts and re-edits it went through in post-production, surprising us with its direction, editing and two exceptional central performances — especially William Hurt, who deserved the Oscar he won.
Although it may be initially fun to watch this trashy erotic thriller for its stylized visuals and exaggerated acting (which makes it even inadvertently funny at times), it unfolds like a Lucio Fulci giallo: devoid of tension or consistency, tedious and seemingly lost about its own purpose.
Knight of Cups (2015)
Malick seems to have become one of those old pals who love to tell the same story over and over in parties, and so he gives us this redundant, repetitious and, well, pretentious meditation that doesn’t even have the consistency and beauty of The Tree of Life and To the Wonder.
Knocked Up (2007)
A good comedy, funny and sweet, whose first hour is so hilarious and raunchy it had me laughing real hard. After that, however, it becomes a bit irregular and stretches for too long, with some unnecessary and unfunny jokes that could have been easily left out.
An engaging odyssey with a stunning cinematography that uses an appropriately large depth of field to explore the vastness of the high sea. Also, the characters are complex and well defined in their motivations, in a story that manages to be quite tense.
Kong: Skull Island (2017)
It is hard to care about anything in this visually aseptic (yet occasionally enjoyable) monster movie whose CGI is so artificial that it feels like watching someone play video game — including an awful excess of lens flares and too much boring action for very little substance.
What makes this film so mesmerizing is how it is essentially structured through visual parallels and continuous repetition (emphasized by Philip Glass’s music) to brilliantly illustrate the mechanics of our world as a fast-paced insanity of people, cars, expressways, machines and destruction.
Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
A profoundly affecting family drama in which everything conspires for something so perfect that you must be dead if you are not moved, and it relies on a beautiful script that refuses to take sides and on exceptional performances by Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep and Justin Henry.
Michael Dougherty is no Joe Dante, and his attempt to mix horror and comedy is only unscary and unfunny — a perfunctory, predictable and uninspired Christmas movie plagued with characters so hateful that I wanted Krampus to kill them all so that it would be finally over.
I like how Shults makes us experience the discomfort felt by his protagonist using a dissonant music and long wide-angle shots, creating a film that is so depressing and hard to stomach that we even forgive him when it feels like he is paying too much attention to his own direction.
Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)
With annoying characters, a stupid protagonist and a messy plot that is more confusing than enlightening like it wants to be, this stunning stop-motion animation is predictable, unfunny and full of cheesy clichés that will please those who don’t mind a story without much imagination.
Centered on two women from a Turkish family living in Vienna, this sensitive and involving drama takes a careful time to let us understand them instead of judging their actions — thanks especially to Koldas and Akkaya, who perfectly convey all the emotion needed for their roles.
Kung Fu Hustle (2004)
With another fantastic combination of martial arts, nonsensical humor and cartoonish special effects, Stephen Chow’s follow-up to Shaolin Soccer may not be as incessantly hilarious as that film but is an amazing entertainment for those who love great fight scenes and surprises.
The film does a fine job in developing its characters (and the relationship between them) and creating a strong feel of claustrophobia (especially with a tense long take that makes us hold our breath), but it also loses focus in its second half with unnecessary melodrama and not a real payoff.
A comprehensive documentary that combines a great amount of video and audio footage with gorgeous animation and interviews to create a profoundly revealing character study, even if the final result feels a bit too long and some things are left hanging — like, where is Dave Grohl?
La Bamba (1987)
A refreshing biopic about a short-lived star who met with a tragic death (tragic and also ironic considering his fear of flying and how his fate was decided by the flip of a coin), and it is so engaging that it breaks our hearts even if we know from the get-go how everything ends.
Labor Day (2013)
Whereas the first half may feel a tad unconvincing and predictable, with just too many clichés, it soon becomes complex and genuinely touching (always accompanied by a beautiful score) — reaching an efficiently tense third act that makes up for all the sappiness that came before.
A delightful fantasy adventure clearly inspired by The Wizard of Oz (the book appears in at least two scenes) and fairy tales (even a poisoned fruit is there), and its dated visual effects and cheesy musical numbers have a charm only found in these movies of the ’80s.
Labyrinth of Lies (2014)
It has the bland and uninspired aesthetics of a film made for television but at least understands well the complexity of its subject matter despite some typical clichés of TV movies, like the protagonist giving in to alcohol abuse and his incomprehensible decision in the third act.
Raulino is a director who follows his own instincts, and there is something quite urgent and desperate in the way his silent camera moves and zooms, frantic and wild, exposing a city’s putrid guts where “garbage is the only means of survival.”
Ladies in Lavender (2004)
It doesn’t take us any effort to understand the genuine fascination created by the mysterious and handsome young man played by Daniel Brühl, but this unremarkable British drama is only worth it for the superb performances by Judi Dench and Maggie Smith.
The Ladies Man (1961)
When it isn’t funny (which happens quite frequently, to be honest), at least it holds out attention, but when it is, the film can make you laugh until you wet your pants (especially in a hilarious scene with Buddy Lester). Too bad it almost gets lost in its uneven last half hour.
The Lady (2011)
Besson turns this real story into a conventional, underwhelming movie and stretches it forever, but still Michelle Yeoh does her best to lend an aura of elegance and honor to a character that utters cheap soundbites all the time to justify her poorly developed actions.
Lady and the Tramp (1955)
Make sure you watch the original CinemaScope widescreen version of this great Disney animation and be charmed by its stunning, vivid colors, sweet songs, adorable characters and that memorable spaghetti scene that conveys all the romance of the “lovely bella notte.”
The Lady Eve (1941)
With a perfect balance between farce, screwball, slapstick, romance and even suspense, this is a witty comedy that relies on a delightful dialogue (which should be considered one of the finest ever written) and a wonderful chemistry between Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda.
The Lady in the Van (2015)
The biggest problem with this witless, excruciating movie is that it feels almost impossible to have any sympathy for such an odious old lady (is she supposed to be adorable in her annoying eccentricity? I can’t tell), and I couldn’t wait to see her die so it would be finally over.
Lady Jane (2008)
This French crime drama begins promising but lacks enough strength in the development of its premise, as it simply comes down to an ordinary message about revenge leading to more revenge, but still the plot has a good atmosphere of mystery and some nice twists.
Lady Macbeth (2016)
Florence Pugh is a revelation, delivering an astonishing performance in this tense, slow-burning period drama about a woman compelled by dark circumstances to act in questionable ways in order to survive an oppressive environment that would easily crush her otherwise.
The Lady Vanishes (1938)
An enjoyable but overrated film that wants so much to be funny (and make fun of British people who think only about their own problems) that it doesn’t have any tension, with a plot that, even with a curious premise, is just too contrived to be taken seriously.
An entertaining movie about the importance of not accepting defeat when in face of the toughest obstacles and how we should do everything in our power to succeed, with faith and courage — and it even finds space to discuss matters like prejudice along the way.
Lake Mungo (2008)
As far as horror mockumentaries go, this is a bleak and very well-made study of loss and grief that may not be as scary as it is spooky but builds a compelling mystery as family secrets are exposed and we begin to realize that things are not exactly what they seem to be.
Land of Mine (2015)
The film is gripping and tense enough to compensate for the main character’s problems in characterization — especially his abrupt change in behavior towards the German boys, which comes off as forced and heavy-handed -, and it also benefits from a strong ending.
Land of Oblivion (2011)
This gripping recounting of a real tragedy benefits from a gradual sense of danger in its first half and the actual location of the ghost town of Prypiat in the second. Even so, the film doesn’t manage so well to generate empathy due to its uninteresting characters.
Land of São Saruê (1971)
By approaching what it exposes with both a clinical eye (almost like a scientific article) and a poetic lens, this poignant documentary is a definitive treatise on poverty in the Northeast of Brazil and the unjust exploitation of extremely poor people living in a land of richness.
Herzog creates a sad and moving documentary that touches us by offering a glimpse of what it must be like to be locked inside a deaf-blind body (since we can never know exactly how it feels like) and to find it so hard to communicate with other people and the world around.
Land of the Dead (2005)
An unnecessary fourth entry in the zombie trilogy even if it offers another interesting social commentary. With poorly-written dialogue and characters we never care about, this film will probably please those more interested in new ways of slaughter and blood spewing.
Lars and the Real Girl (2007)
This wonderful film could have so easily been made into a silly comedy but is fortunately instead a bittersweet drama that relies on a captivating performance by the always talented Ryan Gosling, who gives life to a sensitive character that never seems less than real.
The Last Airbender (2010)
It is no surprise that after two atrocities Shyamalan couldn’t make something superior, and so, by trying to comprise an entire season of the Nickelodeon animated series into one single movie, he creates an incomprehensible narrative with pedestrian dialogue and awful acting.
Last Chants for a Slow Dance (1977)
As imperfect as this low-budget drama is, with its sound defects, rambling moments and lack of better cohesion, it also impresses for being a series of largely-improvised, long-take scenes that delineate at each turn its character’s state of mind and drifting existence.
Last Conversations (2015)
Following As Canções as another simple documentary centered on interviews with common people (this time teenage students), Coutinho’s posthumous film (edited after his tragic death) turns out to be subtly revealing as well in the way it exposes social inequality in Brazil.
Last Days (2005)
If Van Sant’s intention was to depict Kurt Cobain’s last days as tedious and devoid of meaning as possible, he surely achieved what he wanted, but his biggest presumption was to believe that the viewers would fall for this insufferably boring, self-indulgent joke.
The Last Exorcism (2010)
A competent mockumentary that employs a precise pace to follow a charlatan Reverend who exploits people for money until he encounters more than he bargained for. Suffice to say that it grows really terrifying, but the editing is flawed like most productions of the kind.
The Last Exorcism Part II (2013)
Despite the deliberate pacing that helps build tension, here is another sequel (to a good horror movie) that drops the subjective camera for no reason along with its main reason to exist — and it is hard not to be infuriated by its stupid, inconclusive ending.
The Last Face (2016)
The jumps in time prevent us from getting closer to its characters, and it is easy to understand why so many people hated this film when we see a cheesy love story between a white couple made more important than what there is to say about the horrors that happen in Africa.
The Last House on the Left (1972)
Exploitation is supposed to be fun, but there is no fun here unless you get off on seeing vile scenes of rape and brutality, and the movie is so trashy and tonally awful that it becomes bizarre the way it combines all that ugly violence with a ridiculous, childish sense of humor.
Last Men in Aleppo (2017)
The sight of the wrecked city and those dead children is devastating enough to leave us shaken, and the film, despite a certain questionable preciosity, almost makes us feel like we are there next to those men risking their own lives to rescue people from under the rubble.
The Last Metro (1980)
While the film is always engaging and does a great job showing the camaraderie that grows in the context of a theatre production (even in hard times), it is a shame that the love interest between Deneuve and Depardieu’s characters does not translate well to the screen and feels forced.
Last Night (2010)
An honest though unimpressive movie with decent performances, especially Keira Knightley, who shines in this story of doubt, desire and betrayal. Still, it is too bad that after ninety minutes of slow build-up it simply doesn’t offer a real pay-off.
The Last Samurai (2003)
I will never really understand why this powerful epic is so generally overlooked and underrated, when in fact it should be regarded as an extraordinary masterpiece about honor, love, loyalty and redemption, beautifully photographed, greatly acted and with a gorgeous score.
The Last Seduction (1994)
An efficient film noir with a clever plot and an extremely diabolical femme fatale played by a very inspired Linda Fiorentino. Also deserving praise is Bill Pullman, who is surprisingly funny as the furious husband trying to catch her in this witty cat-and-mouse game.
Last Shift (2014)
It may be hard to believe that Harkavy’s character wouldn’t just leave the police station under such horrific circumstances, but the actress does a great job selling us her strong perseverance in a highly creepy, low-budget horror film that offers some very disturbing moments.
Last Year at Marienbad (1961)
A mesmerizing film that impresses for Resnais’ exceptional direction as he creates an enigmatic dreamlike experience that blends memory and reality through its unique use of editing and keeps us always in doubt whether what we are witnessing is the product of someone’s mind.
A good whodunit noir that, despite a plot weakened by contrivances (the worst being the detective falling in love with a dead woman’s portrait), is memorable mostly because of David Raksin’s score and the film’s great dialogue (with Clifton Webb, fantastic, getting the most cynical, priceless lines).
Laurence Anyways (2012)
Dolan’s first misstep in his so far promising career, and it is true that he had shown before a penchant for over-stylization but now he seems to think he is fabulous enough to come up with this incredibly pretentious, self-indulgent, artificial and exasperating exercise of style over substance.
Hillcoat and Nick Cave work together again to bring us this sensational gangster epic that packs an extremely intense and brutal punch with none of the romanticism expected from this kind of film — and it boasts some terrific performances and a stunning production design.
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
A splendorous epic restored to near perfection, running now for almost four hours of magnificent visuals and fantastic dialogue, and it offers us both O’Toole and Sharif in superb performances — especially the former as a complex, contradictory man in a journey from eccentric soldier to mad exhibitionist.
Lean on Pete (2017)
Steering away from any possible attempt at sentimentality, this is an always mature and down-to-earth coming-of-age drama that relies on an impressive performance by Charlie Plummer to tell us the heartbreaking hardships endured by a poor young man in an unforgiving country.
Leave No Trace (2018)
Almost like a heartwarming answer to the bleak brutality of Winter’s Bone, here is a delicate and touching daughter-father drama whose main strength comes from the complexity of its characters, who behave like real-life people do and are brilliantly played by Thomasin McKenzie and Ben Foster.
Leaves of Grass (2009)
A pseudo-philosophical comedy that begins well but then dives into sheer stupidity after the first forty minutes. Even if Edward Norton is great playing twin brothers, the plot seems absolutely pointless, shifting with no tact from light comedy to overviolent thriller and cheap melodrama.
Dreyer’s third film, his cinematic breakthrough, is overlong, a bit prosaic and doesn’t offer much in terms of narrative, but his stellar mise-en-scène and George Schnéevoigt’s cinematography make every stunning shot worthy of being framed and put on a wall in any museum.
Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
An awfully bleak and depressing drama that doesn’t offer us any door or way in to connect with a deplorable alcoholic who only wants to die and a pitiable prostitute in need of his love — and her interview scenes are just intrusive, unnecessary and heavy-handed like most of the script.
Leaving Neverland (2019)
The rabid fans can shut their eyes to reality and bark as loud as they want, but they have to be really fanatic to simply dismiss the claims made by these two men and how their experience with Michael Jackson affected them — and all those around them — for the rest of their lives.
A suffocating and complex war movie shot entirely in a tank to depict the personal impact of a conflict and centered on four Israeli soldiers within the vehicle moving across an invaded land — isolated from the chaos outside but able to see everything through the gun-sight.
Tom Hardy is the main (or in fact only) reason for you to see this film, playing twin brothers and stealing the scene especially as the insane, dangerous and hilariously bizarre Ronnie Kray, but as a biopic it is flawed and conventional like many other gangster movies alike.
The Legend of Hell House (1973)
An interesting haunted house movie that invests in a gloomy atmosphere like a psychological horror film and benefits greatly from a chilling art direction and cinematography, although it isn’t exactly scary nor memorable as a narrative.
The Legend of 1900 (1998)
Without any structure, focus or even narrative purpose, still the biggest problem with this disastrous (and overlong) mess of a film is how the personality of its title character (who remains an irritating sketch) and his forced friendship with the protagonist are so poorly developed.
The Lego Movie (2014)
What makes this film really special is not only the fact that it is enormously hilarious and fun for all ages, with an awesome CGI that looks so fluid and real, but mainly because it is a true ode to creativity and imagination, and what makes us special in our own way.
It looks gorgeous and the music is great, but the best thing in this conceptual “visual album” is seeing how Beyoncé reveals so much about herself in such an experimental, artistic way, even if sometimes it seems like she is throwing a lot of different elements of her life together.
The Leopard (1963)
Visconti’s leisurely paced three-hour epic is a deeply sad and nostalgic meditation on mortality and the passing of an era. A sumptuous drama rich in nuances, with beautiful performances (especially Burt Lancaster) and an unforgettable extended ballroom scene in the end.
Less Than Zero (1987)
At first the unlikable characters keep us from relating to the story but Kanievska manages the feat of making them all sympathetic later, in a devastating portrayal of drug addiction with a great soundtrack and two terrific performances by Robert Downey Jr. and James Spader.
With a gorgeous black-and-white cinematography and musical sequences full of energy to illustrate desires and feelings that the characters cannot exactly express, this is a sublime film that refuses easy conflicts and becomes even better when focusing on how Viktor and Mayk see their art.
Set in a gloomy, oppressive location in Northern Russia, this is an uncomfortable drama of tremendous irony about a Job-like character who is forced to face the hypocrisy of conservatism in a lawless town where freedom and justice are only for the God-fearing righteous.
An insufferable specimen of tabloid movie that is more concerned with being a who’s-who of celebrities in 1955 instead of at least engaging as a narrative, and its failure can be attributed mainly to Pattinson (terrible) and DeHaan, who is completely miscast as James Dean.
Filled with awful dialogue and completely devoid of tension, this cheap copy of Alien is a waste of time that has nothing to offer but an incredible amount of stupid characters making dumb decisions and being just a bunch of random faces to be chased by a stupid creature in a spaceship.
Life, and Nothing More… (1992)
Kiarostami blurs once again the line that separates reality and fiction, this time even making a reference to one of his previous films to offer us a delicate, compelling look at how people can move on with their lives and even help each other in the face of a terrible real tragedy.
Life, Animated (2016)
A fascinating story full of love and generosity about a young autistic man who learned how to express his feelings and open up to the world through Disney animated movies — and even if it could have gone deeper into his condition, the film can be extremely moving sometimes.
Life Itself (2014)
A beautiful tribute to a brilliant writer and inspiring man who was one of the most influential movie critics of all time, showing us his indisputable importance for the Seventh Art, his genius and flaws, and his touching fight with cancer, all in a very honest, unsentimental way.
Life of Pi (2012)
Technically impressive and with astonishing visuals (despite the poor 3D), this is a magnificent and emotionally intense allegory that uses a lot of symbolism to raise questions about God, faith and how sometimes we can be forced to face our inner beasts. A wonderful film of rare beauty, to be seen many times.
Life Stinks (1991)
An underrated Mel Brooks comedy that benefits from funny situations and great performances (especially Brooks and Warren, who steals the show every time she appears), disappointing only for coming up with a silly and implausible conclusion for the character’s problems.
An engaging chamber movie in which all action takes place inside a lifeboat, impressing us most with its technical achievement (if there was any doubt about Hitchcock’s directing skills before it, this film certainly removed it) and Tallulah Bankhead standing out in a great cast.
The Light Between Oceans (2016)
Cianfrance has become an “expert” in corny melodramas, and this is like a shameless telenovela that suffers even more from the fact that there is no chemistry between the two bland leads and nothing in there to make us feel any sympathy for a couple of baby kidnappers.
Lights Out (2016)
A decent horror movie that has its spooky moments (especially for those who are afraid of the dark) and works well enough to compensate for its clichés (such as the ludicrous details about Diana’s past, which made me laugh) and the fact that it can be too safe sometimes.
Like Crazy (2011)
The leads are very talented even if not so charismatic (and they don’t have a lot of chemistry together), but this is compensated by a mature story told with a lot of conviction and made even more sincere by its dynamic editing that shows well the power of time in a relationship.
Like Father, Like Son (2013)
Koreeda brings a great deal of his usual delicacy and sensibility to a story that doesn’t offer easy answers, even if — given the complex nature of the subject in itself — it feels like it doesn’t go as deep as it could into its themes and remains a bit more redundant than insightful.
Like Me (2017)
Despite being visually stunning and entrancingly melancholy with some very interesting ideas in which to anchor its stylized aesthetics, the film sadly gets lost after a while when it starts to lose focus and digress toward an anticlimactic (yet undeniably coherent) conclusion.
Like Someone in Love (2012)
Kiarostami is off to a wonderful start in the first act, displaying a very refined direction, elegant camera movements and smart storytelling. Still, it is hard to see where he wants to go with this after the two characters meet, lacking a clear direction or purpose.
Like Stars on Earth (2007)
An extraordinary and magical film that should open the eyes of more and more people to a serious developmental disorder and the pain caused to many children who suffer from it — and it shows how sometimes it takes one person to care and make a difference in someone’s life.
Lili Marleen (1981)
One may wonder why Fassbinder decided to indulge himself in an unimpressive, seemingly underdeveloped Hollywood-like movie made only for entertainment, and it loses its way in the last act to the point of even including a completely pointless self-reference.
Whishaw and Cheng are great in this touching story of grief, language barriers and even the differences that are brought to light when people finally understand each other — which gives rise to some very humorous moments -, although it also avoids going deeper in its emotions.
Lilya 4‑ever (2002)
A tragic and devastating film that should make us aware of something horrific that happens to so many teenage girls in Eastern Europe, and if you decide to watch it without knowing anything about it, it may perhaps be an even more shocking and compelling experience.
The Limehouse Golem (2016)
I did enjoy the delightful dialogue and solid performances, but this Victorian-era detective story tries so hard to be smart and surprising (with an “unexpected” big twist in the end) that it doesn’t realize how predictable it is in its baffling stupidity.
A deeply heartfelt story that doesn’t need too much effort to make us feel for and care about the genuine connection that grows between the two central characters. Besides, it is more than a pleasure to see Chaplin and Buster Keaton sharing the final act together.
Considered by many as the Brazilian Un Chien Andalou, this poetic classic may be quite self-indulgent and repetitious, but is also a hugely innovative film in terms of cinematography and editing for the time it was made, with so many evocative shots that linger in the memory.
An entertaining movie that you easily forget after seeing and whose curious premise runs out of steam too quickly, but this is compensated at least by a charming and charismatic Bradley Cooper who keeps you interested long after you had stopped caring about the story.
This pathetic melodrama is always more interesting when focusing on the politics involved but a very schmaltzy “life lesson” whenever Lincoln appears — shown as a wise and mythical storyteller of pure heart (but fine with bribing, of course), never a complex real man.
The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)
This entertaining crime thriller is not very original but doesn’t disappoint either, as it offers a pretty interesting plot with its typical, expected twists and some good performances — except, of course, Ryan Phillippe, who is mediocre and inexpressive as usual.
A Linguagem da Persuasão (1970)
Too brief and superficial, but great to show in the first class of an introductory course to communication studies.
Linha de Montagem (1982)
Although it may feel a bit longer than necessary and somewhat repetitive, this is a must-see documentary that does more than convince us of the power of (labor) union and organized structure before action, as well as Lula’s major role as the eloquent leader of the workers’ movement.
The Lion King (2019)
Disney seems so greedy and desperate to make money that they remake one of their classics almost identically just to show what they can do with state-of-the-art CGI, but the result lacks magic and looks more like a Nat Geo production, with voicing and singing that pale in comparison.
Lions Love (1969)
Varda seems to be trying to make an improvisational meta-Warhol experiment or perhaps a hippie homage to Hollywood (who knows?), but the result, despite mildly pleasant, is in fact a bit pretentious, and the main trio become pretty annoying and dull after a while.
Liquid Truth (2017)
The framings are pretty weird, usually slicing the characters’ faces off on top, while the ending is too abrupt, but I like how the film’s ambiguity brings the main focus here to how quickly and easily an accusation can escalate into a witch hunt in times of Facebook and Twitter.
Little Ashes (2008)
A disappointing effort that doesn’t develop well the personalities of its three main characters and is unable to make us see what Lorca could possibly find so attractive in Pattinson’s Dalí. Besides, it suffers from irregular performances and some cheesy, embarrassing moments.
Little Athens (2005)
Little Athens brings together in a single independent film more than a dozen young raising stars and has a great indie soundtrack, but is no more than an ordinary, unremarkable story about youngsters dealing with sex and drugs.
A Little Chaos (2014)
Winslet and Rickman do sell their implausible scene together in the garden, but this mediocre — and awkward — little melodrama is centered on an unconvincing romance and is not ashamed to use a ridiculous “flashback attack” in the end to solve the character’s problems.
The Little Drummer Girl (1984)
What I liked most in this solid, underrated thriller was the whole complexity of its situations, alliances and strategies as seen through the eyes of a naive actress caught in the middle of a conflict and following her heart instead of any political convictions.
Little England (2013)
Overlong and a tad overbaked, this Greek period drama has an alarming tendency to exposition and cheesiness — especially with those pseudo-poetic lines uttered now and again by the characters -, but the beautiful cinematography and strong performances compensate.
The Little Mermaid (1989)
The best film of the studio in more than twenty years and an excellent return to the golden age of fairy tale classics, with wonderful songs, a delightful animation and a wonderfully-written story that set a new standard to be followed by the studio in the next decade.
Little Odessa (1994)
With an unrelatable psychopath at its center and only the strong performances to commend, especially from Tim Roth and Maximilian Schell, this is a failed combination of family drama and crime thriller that falls flat as both, seeming pointless and empty in its poor attempt at saying something.
The Little Prince (1974)
A beautiful musical adaptation that captures the essence and soul of Saint-Exupery’s classic book, even if the sight of actors playing animals must feel strange for some, and benefits from gorgeous visuals and fantastic performances — especially by the young Steven Warner.
The Little Prince (2015)
The animation is stunning, but the plot (whose title is misleading even if it does a great job reinterpreting the story in a new context) feels a bit all over the place in its second act (with a clear lack of cohesion between the two storylines) and has problems such as the mother’s absurdly incoherent behavior in the end.
Little White Lies (2010)
With a first-rate cast and a great soundtrack, this is a warm and funny movie that already begins with an impressive long take, and although it has a maudlin conclusion that almost ruins it, it is centered on a group of characters who are flawed and entirely human — like they should be.
What is the point of trying to make heads or tails of anything here or even looking for any sense if it is clear that the directors are only thinking about aesthetics and creating gorgeous set pieces? Besides, the film is completely unscary and just a pile of ridiculous clichés.
A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (1971)
It doesn’t take a genius to see that the stupid twist in the end doesn’t make any sense after all that came before, and this trashy, nonsensical giallo is even more excruciating with its inept direction, ugly zooms, hideous trembling camera, cheesy music and terrible acting from everyone.
A strong character study with a fantastic performance by Tom Hardy, despite its excess of exposition and a director who doesn’t seem to trust his own capacity to keep us involved with a minimalist story and so tries everything to create a sense of movement with his restless camera.
In its insistence on being smart and surprising — which this efficient thriller is for the most part — it also comes off as a bit contrived and over the top like a Melrose Place-like soap opera, directed and edited as a telefilm and with a dialogue that sounds at times pretty expository.
Hugh Jackman delivers an intense and visceral performance in what is essentially a harrowing, gritty character study that does an amazing job ripping the viewer’s soul apart little by little with a touching story about mortality and a devastating explosion of blood and violence.
Logan Lucky (2017)
Soderbergh leaves his alleged retirement to deliver us this entertaining (yet uneven) caper that may not be remarkable but benefits from a good ensemble cast, even if the movie suffers from problems of pacing and relies on a sense of humor that doesn’t always work.
Loki: Arnaldo Baptista (2008)
Making use of a lot of great interviews and wonderful archive footage, this is a comprehensive documentary and touching tribute to one of the most important and influential names in the history of Brazilian music, and how he went from stardom to falling victim to depression.
The last film of Fassbinder’s BRD Trilogy is this sharp social satire that proves to be hilarious from start to finish, a quirky melodrama of garish visuals and glossy colors with Barbara Sukowa displaying a delicious comic timing in a story that can be surprisingly touching.
Lola Montès (1955)
The recently restored version as originally intended by Ophüls is a sumptuous chef-d’oeuvre. The production design, costumes, the fluid camerawork, the wonderful script, everything is remarkable from the first shot to the last, a great pleasure for the eyes and the heart.
The fact that Nabokov’s perverse and sensual masterpiece got adapted was a remarkable achievement, considering its polemic subject and the year the film was released, and Kubrick was a genius turn it into a subtle story that implies more than it shows while still remaining true to the novel.
Julie Delpy only shows us that she has an awful sense of humor and doesn’t realize that most of her jokes and gags are horrible and unfunny, which is made even worse by the fact that most of the characters are so selfish and detestable, and Vincent Lacoste a terrible actor.
The Lone Ranger (2013)
It is true that it is overlong and has an irregular pace (some editing required), but it manages to be a very entertaining popcorn movie, making the best of it all with a delicious slapstick humor, a gorgeous production design, top-notch visual effects and an amazing score.
Lone Survivor (2013)
The title and initial scenes make the film quite predictable, but this is compensated by a surprisingly brutal second act with a first-rate sound job. The only problem is that Berg is too concerned about making it a brainless pro-troop action movie, something clearer in the movie’s stupid third act.
The Long Goodbye (1973)
An intricate film noir satire that has all the elements that we expect from a Raymond Chandler story, only this time the protagonist of The Big Sleep is updated to the 1970s with a shocker in the end and a delicious melancholy song that will stay in your head for a long time.
Long Shot (2019)
Like a good dish lacking salt, this is a movie that doesn’t have the wittiness it needs to take off and become really tasty, and it doesn’t help that Theron and Rogen don’t have that much chemistry or that the plot decides to solve a clever conflict in a typically safe, implausible way.
The Look of Silence (2014)
Despite its tendency to place more the interviewer at the center of the doc than its subject, and how his confrontation seems at times fruitless and misguided, this welcome follow-up to The Act of Killing is also revealing as it exposes a country trying to bury its past.
Look Who’s Back (2015)
Masucci deserves an Oscar for his magnetic, hilarious performance as Hitler in this satirical gem that combines mockumentary with fiction and achieves moments of absolute brilliance when inducing people to expose their worst side — even making Borat seem like an amateur in comparison.
Looking for Eric (2009)
A delightful and amazingly engaging tragicomedy that blends sadness, tenderness and a lot of humor to deliver this heart-warming story that benefits from some amazing performances — especially by a hilarious Eric Cantona at his most philosophical.
A very smart and thought-provoking science-fiction that injects some thrilling action scenes in a compelling time travel narrative and deserves special praise for its great direction, fine acting and for respecting our intelligence like any first-rate sci-fi should.
The Lorax (2012)
A cute and enjoyable animation that stays true to the ecological message of Dr. Seuss’s book. With an optimistic and hopeful story that speaks to all children, it proves to be much more efficient (and funnier) than the likes of Ice Age 4 and Madagascar 3, also released in the same year.
A disastrous drama that feels repetitious and pointless, never making clear what Shortland wants to say with this — and her heavy-handed direction makes even more blatant the way she embraces the most obvious soap-opera clichés and cheap narrative artifices.
Lost and Delirious (2001)
It is really interesting to see how Pool makes this Shakespearean story of unrequited love and obsession look like it could be taking place in any time, and it is also very nice the way that she gradually moves her main focus from Barton’s character to the film’s true protagonist, Paulie.
The Lost City of Z (2016)
James Grey makes a weak film that wants to be an exciting adventure (yet it does manage to be tense at times) but is mostly uninteresting and overlong, with not much to offer besides a lot of clichés, silly dialogue and poorly-developed motivations for its obsessed protagonist.
Lost Islands (2008)
A refreshing coming-of-age comedy that perfectly captures the feel of bygone days with a wonderful ’80s soundtrack and a great production design — and it is impressively well edited and evolves into a strong drama centered on family, dreams and choices.
Lost River (2014)
Gosling creates an ominous atmosphere with a hypnotizing cinematography and a great score, but this incredibly pretentious and self-indulgent salad of influences — Lynch, Bava, Argento, Refn and so on — has a terrible sense of lack of purpose, with apparently nothing to say.
Louder Than Bombs (2015)
Trier follows his excellent Oslo, 31. August with another devastating drama, this time about a family who must cope with the weight of loss, and, even if a bit uneven, it is nice to see the sincere way that it shows and explores the complexity of the characters’ feelings.
A self-indulgent (and endless) film with maybe the worst 3D I have ever seen (it simply has no sense of depth and makes the film look too dark), while the dialogue is infantile and awful, the actors terrible (Muyock is easily the worst) and it feels almost impossible to care about such a detestable protagonist.
Love After Love (2017)
If Closer had been made by Ingmar Bergman, I guess the result would have been something like this, an adult, soul-crushing family drama about love, death and the effect of time on those who grieve, with an oppressive cinematography that reflects well the characters’ emotional state.
Love & Friendship (2016)
I love the English language, and it is a delightful pleasure to listen to Jane Austen’s delicious and funny dialogue from the mouths of such a wonderful cast (especially Kate Beckinsale and Tom Bennett), and the film benefits from a jaw-dropping production and costume design.
Love & Mercy (2014)
Paul Dano and John Cusack offer two exceptional performances as Wilson in two distinct (and at times even contrasting) stages of his life, and this insightful biopic is very well directed, beautifully photographed and filled with the wonderful music of The Beach Boys.
Love & Other Drugs (2010)
I disagree with the common feeling that this movie doesn’t exactly know what story it wants to tell; in fact, it is a decent romantic comedy that balances well its different plot elements, with a great chemistry between the leads and a very hot Jake Gyllenhaal almost naked in several scenes.
The Love Guru (2008)
A movie so absolutely puerile, unfunny and dreadful in every aspect imaginable that it makes you want to take Mike Myers by the hair and beat him with a tire iron. Is there really still anyone in this planet who thinks that name puns and diarrhea jokes are at all funny?
I don’t know what is worse, if the film’s cringeworthy depiction of superstitious exoticism in China or the corny dialogue exchanged by two lead actors who have very little chemistry together, but at least this is partly compensated by some convincing political and cultural obstacles.
Love Me Forever or Never (1986)
Pretentious, tiresome and repetitious, this is a poorly-directed male fantasy that doesn’t even seem to realize how sexist it is, with cheap dialogue and centered on two selfish characters who become more and more detestable as the story moves on towards a stupid ending.
Love Me If You Dare (2003)
Not only is every scene between mother and son hideously corny and sentimental, but it is almost impossible to put up with two sociopaths so utterly immature, disgusting and loathsome amid conflicts that are all childish, irritating and artificial.
Love, Simon (2018)
The impression one gets while watching this movie is that everyone tried too hard to make it as adorable as possible, but it doesn’t even care to avoid the most basic romcom clichés, especially in its third act when things become too sappy, silly and contrived.
Love Songs (2007)
The songs are mostly nice (when the lyrics are not so irritatingly pretentious), but the film seems to wander around without a clear sense of purpose, conviction and focus, while also being way too bleak and downbeat for its own good with its blueish, monotonous visuals.
Love Steaks (2013)
The main reason why this delicious film works so damn well (both as a comedy and as a romance) is because Franz Rogowski and Lana Cooper are so damn good playing two characters who are absolutely different from each other but who couldn’t have a better onscreen chemistry together.
The most interesting thing in this solid biopic is how it shows us one side of Linda Lovelace’s life and then subverts it to reveal the real dark truth behind all that we are witnessing, becoming a touching drama about a terribly unlucky woman caught in a very sad life.
Even if his metaphor and political commentary are a bit too obvious, Zvyagintsev creates a hard-hitting and devastating portrayal of bitterness, dissatisfaction and loneliness in modern Russia as we follow characters who constantly hurt each other and are unable to change.
The Lovely Bones (2009)
It pains me to see this huge mistake made by Peter Jackson, a ridiculous blend of contrived thriller, unconvincing drama and pathetic afterlife fantasy full of self-indulgent CGI effects — and even worse is the despicable way that it wants us to accept the murder of a 14-year-old girl as part of life.
Lover for a Day (2017)
Even though it is interesting and even engaging, it feels almost impossible not to leave this film with the impression that a lot was told but little was actually said in the end, with everything being mostly inconsequential and not really probing anywhere beneath the surface.
Told almost as a quirky love fable bathed in icy blue and full of the most poetic coincidences, this is an atypical romance that doesn’t even let us notice how strangely hooked to these odd characters we become, hoping above all else that fate will bring them together in the end.
The Lovers on the Bridge (1991)
A beautiful and profoundly moving tale of amour fou about what it means to live with (and to be set free from) any crutches of dependency, being those real or symbolic (like a blinding disease or the need of someone else’s affection), imposed on us by society, ourselves or our own limitations.
I find it remarkable how Nichols uses a sober, unsentimental approach (with a very nice attention to details) to tell this real-life story and move us because of the sheer strength of what he wants to say, benefiting mostly from two excellent central performances.
Loving Vincent (2017)
It will be definitely remembered for how it looks: absolutely gorgeous and unique like a Van Gogh painting in motion, that is for sure; yet the film’s unimpressive Citizen-Kane-esque plot doesn’t offer as much to match its incredible technical achievement, which is a pity.
Lucio Flavio (1977)
The dialogue is awkward sometimes and it can be a bit frustrating that the film’s two most powerful scenes turn out to be dreams, but even so this is an excellent and well-directed biopic that lets us sympathize with a real-life bandit who was mainly a pawn in the hands of a corrupt police.
Harry Dean Stanton should have received an Oscar for his sublime farewell in this film, a touching (yet rather uneven) character study that works more when embracing a minimalist Jim Jarmusch-like style than when trying to be David Lynch with a philosophical “message.”
The type of bafflingly stupid movie that believes to be much smarter than it ever comes close to be, incapable of raising any minimally constructive philosophical questions beyond the most obvious pseudo-metaphysical silliness and with Johansson in a terrible performance.
The Lunchbox (2013)
A warm, melancholy drama that enchants and moves us even more thanks to the way that its three-dimensional characters reveal so much about themselves between the lines — and it is only a pity, though, that it drags a bit in the third act and ends in a rather frustrating conclusion.
The Lyre of Delight (1978)
Structured when edited and with no actual script, this is an interesting narrative experiment in concept that simply did not work when put into practice (however technically impressive it is), being in the end a mess without focus, direction, sense of purpose or structure for that matter.